We at snounds like bringing in musicians from all around the world and assisting them in spreading their message and music. Snounds is a music platform that will allow musicians to receive advances for their work while also giving fans the opportunity to earn money while supporting us in uncovering musical talent. This is where we see Shihori, a brilliant singer in the J-pop genre. Jermaine, the founder, chats to Shihori about a few facets of the music industry during this conversation. If you want your own interview, make sure to sign up for a beta version by clicking here.
Shihori is a visionary New York-based singer and songwriter who has enjoyed over a decade of success in the Japanese pop industry and beyond. But, for this artist whose songs have touched hearts across the globe and sold over one million individual units, things could have worked out so differently.
She remembers when everything changed. Shihori remembers the isolation before it and the minute that it when things were no longer the same.
She was 9 years old and on a school trip in her native Japan. An unintended loner, she was trapped in a world shaped by total deafness in one ear and Asperger’s Syndrome (a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes the affected person difficulty in social interaction, amongst other symptoms). Shihori wasn’t able to pick up the hints that displayed other people’s emotions, she also struggled to express her own emotions. She was alone and she didn’t know how not to be. She’d always been alone.
As they travelled by bus, the children were singing karaoke to pass the time. Someone approached her as she sat alone and asked her to sing.
So she did. For the first time in public. Everything stopped. Everyone stopped. They were watching her, they were listening. She remembers, “I sensed the world for the first time”. She was part of it. From that moment, Shihori began to write music with a burning passion, working instinctively and without a music education at that point.
Her passion driven from the discoveries that music opened up for her. From the lessons that she learned through listening to other people’s music and writing her own songs. In later years she would come to reflect that, “music is the magic tool that lets me access other people’s hearts.”
Shihori’s inquisitive young mind was drawn to the virtuosic arrangements of her favourite Anime shows and the masterful works of Beethoven that she was discovering as she began to learn to play the piano. These unlikely bedfellows of vibrant pop and art music from the classical and romantic periods would come to shape the foundation of the music that she creates today.
It wasn’t just her musical arrangements that were developing during this period. Shihori explains. “As I was meeting new people and singing in new environments my writing changed, because I began to start truly seeing the world and the hurt that is out there. I felt the struggle.” The new environment that she refers to was the surroundings of her new home in Tokyo, where she had moved at the age of 21 and, shortly after, signed with the Lantis record label; enjoying her first top 5 chart success with her single “Neverending Wonderland”. In particular she was beginning to see how her home-nation’s altruistic culture created an environment where it can be difficult to talk about ‘self’.
So many others were living their own versions of the isolation that she had experienced in her younger life. People were struggling to find their identities and feel accepted for who they were. She realized that her songs could no longer just speak of her experiences, they needed to also tell other people’s stories. In this way, her music could offer a supportive message of love and self-acceptance. It’s perhaps in telling other people’s stories that Shihori’s unique talents truly began to shine. Because she doesn’t simply recite an experience, she finds ways to absorb the spirit and message of a story, and to then embody that in everything from the lyrics, to the melody, and tone of delivery.
Shihori’s knack for exquisite top line melodies, ability to translate stories into music, and her passionate knowledge of anime have made her a highly-sought-after commodity in the anime world. She has been commissioned to bring her talents to many well-known series, including the international hit Fairy Tail, and the film adaption of the popular web novel series The Irregular At Magic High School. Alongside this, she has collaborated with some of the biggest names within that industry, including Kohei Tanaka (ONE PIECE) and Yoko Kanno (Ghost In The Shell). Dozens of her songs have charted in Japan, with 11 selling over 100,000 copies and individually achieving gold status.
In 2018 Shihori took the next step in her journey by moving to the United States, where she has continued to compose new music, making the most of this fresh opportunity to focus on English-language songs, while also performing extensively across the country. Recently, she has enjoyed international success performing lead vocals on composer Mason Lieberman’s charity single “The Real Folk Blues” (which reached #6 on the Billboard World Digital Chart) as well as composing and performing the ‘Battle Queens’ theme song for the video game League Of Legends (which is closing in on 1 million Spotify streams).
2021 has much in store with the upcoming release of a series of new singles that will preface an album of original compositions.
As Shihori looks forward to this next chapter of her life she finds herself having journeyed from social isolation to a place where she is at one with the world around her.. Her story is a unique one of overcoming personal obstacles, but it’s also a relatable story of the power of music to help us make sense of this world and find peace with ourselves. As she says in her 2020 single “Perfect Imperfection”: